The University of Redlands baseball team welcomed Whittier College to The Yard for the final two games of the teams' Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) series on Saturday. Behind stellar pitching and solid at-bats, the Bulldogs captured an 11-3 win in the opener before completing the doubleheader sweep with a 9-6 decision in the nightcap.
Senior hurler Adam Stead (Rialto, CA) took the hill for the Maroon and Gray in game one. Stead made quick work of the first two innings while going three-up, three-down in the second. His offense got to work in the bottom of that inning by scoring three on one hit and one Poet error. First-year right fielder Cal Bridges (Fremont, CA) and senior left fielder Nick Ono (Yorba Linda, CA) each provided an RBI.
Stead came back stronger than ever in the top of the third by striking out the next three Poets in order. However, in the fourth, Whittier matched the Bulldogs' runs to tie the game at three.
With the score still knotted, first-year pitcher Matt Crow (Lake Elsinore, CA) took over pitching duties in the sixth and retired the side with efficiency.
Redlands busted the game wide open in the bottom of the sixth, with four runs on four hits and one Whittier miscue. Senior catcher Rainier Aguilar (San Bernardino, CA) led off the bottom of the frame with a long double to left center before junior short stop Aaron Singh (Anaheim, CA) knocked a single to left that the fielder bobbled, allowing Aguilar to make it all the way home. With two on and one out, Bridges roped a bases-clearing double to the 7-8 hole for two runs. Senior center fielder Kyle Kabeary (Indio, CA) then traded places with Bridges for an RBI-double to give the Maroon and Gray a 7-3 advantage through six innings.
In the top of the seventh, sophomore pitcher Austin Williams (Redlands, CA) entered the game in a tough spot with the bases load and only one out. Williams pitched for the ground ball and trusted his defense to roll up the 6-4-3 double play to escape the inning unharmed.
The home team stayed hot on offense by adding three more in the bottom of the seventh on two hits. Senior third basemen Brendan Gardiner (Mission Viejo, CA) started it off with a two-base hit to right field. After Redlands recorded a walk and a sacrifice bunt, Singh scored Gardiner on a nice single. Junior designated hitter Bart In den Kleef (Oosterhout, Netherlands) capped off the spurt with a sacrifice fly, which was accompanied by a throwing error that allowed two runs and the 10-3 Bulldog lead.
The Maroon and Gray added another in the eighth on a sacrifice lineout off Gardiner's bat.
First-year pitcher Nick Hammel (San Diego, CA) took the hill for the second time in his young career and pitched a strong 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out the SCIAC win, 11-3.
Stead impressively struck out 10 in five innings, while Crow earned the win.
With the series on the line, senior pitcher Noah Jones (San Bernardino, CA) took the mound for the nightcap.
Redlands jumped on the scoreboard with one run in the bottom of the first. However, Whittier matched the run in the top of second. The Poets added two more in the third to put the home team in a slight 1-3 hole.
After two outs in the bottom of the frame, Gardiner hit a monster, solo shot that ricocheted off the scoreboard to close the gap to 2-3.
Following a quick top of the fourth, Redlands' Singh and In den Kleef both reached base on two straight walks. Bridges subsequently muscled a three-run homer to left center for the Bulldogs' 5-3 lead.
Senior second basemen Will Hall (Seattle, WA) executed a highlight-reel play in the top of the fifth when he snagged a screaming, line drive in midair to avoid baserunners.
Unfortunately, the Poets tied it back up at five for a new ball game in the sixth inning. Bridges then moved from right field to the pitcher's mound in the top of the seventh and recorded an out before pitching into a double play.
With Singh on third and Bridges on second with two outs, Ono stayed cool at the plate for a two-RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the seventh. Kabeary kept the rally going with huge double to left that plated Ono. With these three runs, Redlands owned an 8-5 advantage through seven.
Both teams added one run in the eighth inning for a 9-6 score, with Redlands' Aguilar blasting a double to score Gardiner from second in the bottom of the inning.
First-year hurler Justin Yang (Fountain Valley, CA) recorded three strikeouts while working the eighth and ninth innings. Yang was credited with the save while Bridges notched the win.
Bridges impressed over the two games with seven RBI and four runs scored on a home run and a double.
Redlands (7-3, 4-2 SCIAC) faces No. 2 Cal Lutheran University on Friday, March 2, at The Yard for a 2:30 p.m. start.